Staff drama threatens to overshadow Jon Huntsman’s 2012 bid

Holly Bailey

Jon Huntsman jumped into the 2012 GOP primary less than two months ago, but already behind-the-scenes drama between members of his campaign staff is threatening to overshadow his nomination bid.

Just last month, Huntsman's first campaign manager, Suzie Wiles, stepped aside after less than a month on the job. Last week, David Fischer, a longtime Huntsman friend and confidant, was forced out of the campaign.

Today, Fischer struck back, telling Politico's Jonathan Martin of a campaign infrastructure that is rife with backstabbing and bickering and supporting his argument with emails from Huntsman himself referencing the drama. Among other things, he reveals staff feuding over Huntsman's announcement event and deep divisions over campaign strategy.

Fischer blames the strife on John Weaver, a former adviser to John McCain who is Huntsman's top strategist. In 2007, Weaver quit McCain's presidential campaign amid similar staff drama.

"It's not an ego [thing]," Fischer tells Martin when asked why he's decided to go public. "In fact, a lot of it is if the story gets told, I want the story to be, because Weaver's history in past campaigns is when they don't work out, for whatever reason, he attacks the candidate. And in this case, I am hoping that people at least focus on, well, what went wrong here? The strategy went wrong. The strategy didn't work. At least to this day it hasn't worked."

Weaver didn't respond to an email seeking comment, but privately, Huntsman supporters are downplaying Fischer's story as nothing more than sour grapes.

Still, stories like this are not helpful to any candidate, much less one like Huntsman who has struggled to gain momemtum in the GOP primary. In most early 2012 polls, the former Utah governor is in single digits, trailing most of his GOP rivals.